Wet snow icing accretion on power lines is a real problem in Italy, causing failures on high and medium voltage power supplies during the cold season. The phenomenon is a process in which many large and local scale variables contribute in a complex way and not completely understood. A numerical weather forecast can be used to select areas where wet snow accretion has an high probability of occurring, but a specific accretion model must also be used to estimate the load of an ice sleeve and its hazard. All the information must be carefully selected and shown to the electric grid operator in order to warn him promptly.
The authors describe a prototype of forecast and alert system, WOLF (Wet snow Overload aLert and Forecast), developed and applied in Italy. The prototype elaborates the output of a numerical weather prediction model, as temperature, precipitation, wind intensity and direction, to determine the areas of potential risk for the power lines. Then an accretion model computes the ice sleeves' load for different conductor diameters. The highest values are selected and displayed on a WEB-GIS application principally devoted to the electric operator, but also to more expert users. Some experimental field campaigns have been conducted to better parameterize the accretion model. Comparisons between real accidents and forecasted icing conditions are presented and discussed.